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The War on Libya – There Was No Evidence

Liberal Antiwar Activism is the Problem

Counterpunch

August 5, 2016

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“Liberalism itself has failed, and for a pretty good reason. It has been too often compromised by the people who represented it.”

? Hunter S. Thompson

Every election season, veterans and their families are used as political pawns. During the Democratic National Convention in Philly, the Khans, the mother and father of a Marine Captain who was killed in Iraq, conveniently filled the role for Hillary Clinton and the Neoliberals. At the Republican National Convention, Patricia Smith gladly took the stage for the Neofascists and talked about the death of her son and the non-scandal that is, Benghazi.

In the meantime, anyone who opposes U.S. Empire is shit-out-of-luck when it comes to presidential elections and the two major parties. Here, we should commend Gary Johnson and Jill Stein for remaining principled in their views surrounding foreign policy, militarism, torture and surveillance. They’re the last of a dying breed.

***

My transition from obedient Marine to antiwar veteran was swift. In 2004, while deployed to Iraq, I enthusiastically cast an absentee ballot for John Kerry. Four years later, I was protesting Obama and the Democrats at the DNC in Denver. It didn’t take long to figure out that the Democratic Party was a party of Empire and Capitalism.

Unfortunately, 2008 was the last time a significant number of antiwar activists protested Obama’s foreign policy. Yes, a small number of Americans made a fuss when Obama first threatened to bomb Syria, but those protests were driven by partisan and sectarian interests (the first and only time I saw Republicans and Communists working together). Furthermore, those protests weren’t sustained in any meaningful fashion, so the energy quickly dissipated. As everyone now knows, Obama eventually launched military strikes in Syria and the U.S. continues to bomb the country today.

The millions of liberals who enthusiastically marched against the Bush/Cheney regime have remained utterly silent during Obama’s reign in the White House. And they should be ashamed.

***

Why are liberals and progressives so unprincipled when it comes to U.S. Empire? In my thinking, a large part of the problem is ideological: the majority of liberals and progressives, including many who supported Bernie Sanders, fully identify as Americans. They’ve bought into the notion that the U.S. is a special nation that enjoys a special place in our geopolitical reality. Liberals perpetuate the myth of American Exceptionalism and fully endorse the concept of American Nationalism. As a result, these ideologies are employed in their rhetoric and reflected in their bankrupt policies.

In the future, any antiwar movement that hopes to be successful, must undoubtedly challenge these myths and ideologies and remind Americans of our brutal history. When I think of American Exceptionalism, I don’t think about the moon landing or the U.S. Constitution, I think of exceptional madness: the genocide of North America’s indigenous population, slavery and 200 years of Empire.

When I see an American flag, my blood boils. Technically, I’m an American. But I don’t self-identify as an American. I’d rather identify as a global citizen or simply a human being. Maybe some of this sounds petty, as the flag is simply the symbolic representation of U.S. Empire, but to me, and many millions around the globe, it represents murder, plunder and extreme hubris. Again, nothing to be proud of, and surely nothing to defend.

***

Another fundamental problem in the antiwar movement was individual careerist interests. Let’s be honest, many people failed to protest Obama’s militarism because it wasn’t economically prudent to do so. In short, it was bad for peoples’ potential careers in the world of non-profits. Many of the veterans and antiwar activists I met during the Bush-era now work for any number of liberal NGOs. The revolving door of professional activists and paid consultants dampened any potential radicalism that could have sprouted from any number of organizations we worked with. We were told, “Don’t offend the donors!”

Eventually, I sat on the board of directors of an internationally known antiwar organization. I remember having a conversation with my fellow board members about fundraising. At the time, we were having financial difficulties and donations were sparse. Consequently, the board decided that we should conduct a fluff, top-down campaign to attract funding. Instead, I proposed that we should call our donors and explain that the antiwar movement has disappeared and that we’re having difficulties keeping members active and engaged. You know, the truth. I was told that’s not how NGOs work and that I was immature and uneducated about the topic. You know, just another working-class buffoon.

Today, that organization is a shell of its former self. Hell, I’m not sure if the organization even exists outside of a few art projects and street theater performances. Conventions are held, but they’re no more substantive than a high school reunion. It’s sad and unfortunate.

I don’t recall these memories or provide these reflections with any pleasure. To be honest, it breaks my heart that this is the state of the antiwar movement. Peoples’ lives around the world depend on those of us in the U.S. to create movements capable of stopping Uncle Sam’s imperial madness. So far, we’re losing. And in many ways, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

***

I live in a Rust Belt town in Northwest Indiana, hence most of the people I interact with on a daily basis are not radical activists or political organizers. These folks might attend a local political or cultural event, or even vote in the primaries, but they’re not full-time activists. They don’t spend their days reading Tariq Ali and Arundhati Roy (though they should). These are people who wake up (early), go to work (usually for shit pay), come home (if they have one), eat some dinner (usually fast food or frozen meals) and watch Netflix or ESPN. Their realities and interests are dramatically different than the people I met in the antiwar movement, particularly those working for NGOs.

Several years ago, at a strategic workshop in Chicago, we spent the first two hours of each day talking about pronouns. That’s right, pronouns. Now, is there anything inherently wrong with discussing gender identities? Of course not. But we were attending a strategic workshop for an antiwar organization, not a lecture on gender and civility.

It became clear to me that Identity Politics had infected the organization. But where did this ideology come from? San Francisco, of course.

Many of our members attended anti-oppression workshops, where they talked about privilege and collective liberation. Of course, 95% of the people conducting and attending these workshops were white, upper-class, highly educated and firmly isolated from reality. Yet, here they were,back in Chicago, telling me about privilege and questioning whether or not I was truly a good person because I didn’t understand what cis-gender meant.

If anyone reading this essay ever wondered why more working-class and poor people don’t join antiwar organizations or attend leftist political events, well, now you know. Because the Left is a fucking weird place.

Instead of educating people about the connections between militarism and austerity, Empire and Capitalism, workshop facilitators had people talking about pronouns and doing breathing exercises. I guess that sort of shit might fly in Portland or San Francisco, but not in the Rust Belt.

***

Speaking of the privileged and highly educated, isn’t it interesting that the people who argue for interventionist policies are often people who have the proper educational and cultural pedigree? Here, I’m thinking of the Rachel Maddows and Charlie Roses of the world.

The Humanitarian Interventionist isn’t a steelworker or a bartender at the local pub. Why? Because that bartender or steelworker’s son or daughter could very well end up fighting those interventionist wars abroad. They have some skin in the game, unlike the many professional-class liberals and societal managers who make absurd arguments about the merits of American Exceptionalism and hegemony.

One of the more interesting dynamics of the 2016 race has been Trump’s double-speak on foreign policy. On the one hand, Trump makes absolutely insane statements about nuclear weapons and so forth. On the other hand, Trump occasionally sounds like an isolationist and/or anti-interventionist.

Now, do I believe a word Trump utters? No. But what’s interesting is the fact that large portions of the GOP base, primarily white, working-class and poor people, are no longer buying what Uncle Sam is selling. Their sons and daughters have been ravaged from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with more veterans committing suicide than died overseas. The people who live in Small Town America are the Americans who’ve sacrificed the most since 9/11. And for all the wrong reasons: namely, nationalism, revenge, greed and power.

To me, this antiwar sentiment, however jumbled, unprincipled and unsophisticated it may be, is something to tap into. Without question, large swaths of the American public, especially Sanders and Trump’s supporters, are fatigued from almost fifteen years of non-stop war.

The next step is to use this sentiment to organize and mobilize a new antiwar movement. The only way this will happen is if the Left drops its pretentious bullshit and learns how to talk to regular Americans without getting offended. And that includes some of Trump’s supporters.

***

While the most Americans were focused on the Khan family and Donald Trump’s inability to keep his mouth shut, Obama launched his latest attack in Libya. The White House claims the U.S. will regularly drop bombs for the next month. Unsurprisingly, there was no debate, no congressional approval. The U.S. is bombing Libya and there’s nothing anyone can say or do about it. That’s the sad reality we endure.

Meanwhile, groups such as Vets vs. Hate, and opportunistic liberals, protest Trump’s bigotry but remain utterly silent when it comes to Obama and Clinton’s many war crimes and atrocities. Liberal groups have little to say about the links between U.S. Empire and Climate Change. Refugees aren’t even mentioned. Afghanistan is an afterthought. Libya and Syria might as well not exist. And not a word about civilian casualties.

Moreover, Vets vs. Hate reinforces the false notion that veterans are heroes. Yes, plenty of veterans sacrificed, but not for “democracy” or “freedom.” We killed and died for oil companies, geopolitical interests and banks. And the Democrats share as much responsibility as the Republicans.

The U.S. is the richest and most powerful Empire in history. And for the last 50 years we’ve been killing peasants around the globe. That’s honorable?

In the end, people who want to dismantle the U.S. Empire – Libertarians, Greens, Socialists, Communists, Anarchists – had better get our shit together, drop the sectarian nonsense, find our courage and form organizations that aren’t beholden to wealthy donors or the NGO complex because we’re running out of time. And neither the planet, nor humanity can endure another decade of liberal antiwar activism.

[Vincent Emanuele writes for teleSUR English and lives in Michigan City, Indiana. He can be reached at vincent.emanuele333@gmail.com ]

Indeed, Western Civilization is in a War

July 20, 2016

By Gerald A. Perreira

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Republican, Newt Gingrich, long known for his fascistic views, recently declared that “Western Civilization is in a war”. Truth be told, he is on solid ground. Indeed, Western Civilization is in a war, a war that has been raging since its inception. It has been at war with itself and with the entire non-European world for centuries. Long before anyone heard of Jihadists, Al-Qaeda and ISIL, Western Civilization was at war. Long before Osama Bin Ladin in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Muammar Qaddafi in Libya or Bashar al Assad in Syria, Western Civilization was at war with the entire rest of the world. Western Civilization has mastered the art and technology of warfare. They are the quintessential warlords, despite the fact that they love to attribute this term to non-European leaders, especially Africans. There is no civilization on the face of this earth that has waged war more relentlessly and permanently than Western Civilization – this is not opinion, it is an indisputable historical fact.

European Tribal Wars

Newt Gingrich and his kind need to be reminded of the Hundred-Year’s War (1337 – 1453). This was a European tribal war primarily between the French and the English, with various other European tribes supporting either side. The Hundred Years War claimed the lives of an estimated 3.5 million people. Then there was the Thirty Year’s War (1618 – 1648) involving the majority of European nations. Military historians estimate the death-toll to be at least 8 million. Then we had the two great European tribal wars, erroneously referred to as World War 1 and World War 2, in which the colonized were roped in to fighting alongside the various North Atlantic Tribes. Sadly today, many of us are still fighting on the side of the various North Atlantic Tribes to further the aims of Empire and in the process subjugate and destroy our own peoples. So-called World War 1 claimed the lives of 38 million people, while the other so-called World War – one of Europe’s most genocidal tribal wars left more than 60 million dead.

The West turns on the Rest

After bleeding themselves for centuries, and committing genocide on their own people, they turned on the Indigenous peoples throughout the world committing an unprecedented act of genocide, and then instigated the horrific Trans-Atlantic trade in captured Africans, resulting in the death of untold millions of Africans. This was a war like no other – a war that is still raging on the streets of every town and city in modern day USA, where the descendants of those captured Africans are routinely gunned down by the police in the streets. This year alone, US police have killed at least 136 Africans, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being the latest victims. In 2012, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement released a report titled: Operation Ghetto Storm in which they documented the fact that every 28 hours in 2012 someone employed or protected by the US government killed a Black man, woman or child. This is none other than a war being waged by white corporate America and its racist institutions on the poor and disenfranchised. Following the fatal shooting of 5 police officers in Dallas, Texas on July 7th, President Obama had this to say:

“there’s been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement… I believe that I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events, and that we stand united with people and the police department in Dallas.”

Despite the fact that many of the Africans shot by police in the US have been executed at point blank range, and that a recent victim, Tamir Rice was only 12 years old when he was shot to death in a playground, no US president, including Obama, has ever spoken about the killing of Africans in America in this tone, using appropriately harsh words.

And when 3 more police officers were shot and killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 17th, President Obama had this to say:

“I condemn, in the strongest sense of the word, the attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge. For the second time in two weeks, police officers who put their lives on the line for ours every day were doing their job when they were killed in a cowardly and reprehensible assault. These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop…And make no mistake – justice will be done.

We may not yet know the motives for this attack, but I want to be clear: there is no justification for violence against law enforcement. None… These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one. They right no wrongs. They advance no causes. The officers in Baton Rouge; the officers in Dallas – they were our fellow Americans, part of our community, part of our country, with people who loved and needed them, and who need us now – all of us – to be at our best.”

Anyone reading these statements can see that Barack Obama is clear about whose side he is on in this war. In the face of the horrific statistics regarding the number of Africans shot this year alone by police, let alone decades of police brutality and murder directed against African communities throughout the US, Obama deliberately fails to connect the dots. He dare not. As the Black face of White Supremacy and Western Civilization’s ongoing war, this White House Negro better keep his story straight and keep to his script.

Barack Obama chalks up Major Victory

After all, during his presidency he chalked up a victory for Western Civilization’s war that compares with few others. He authorized and colluded in the brutal murder of Muammar Qaddafi, one of Africa’s finest leaders. He joined with his Western European allies to destroy Africa’s most prosperous country, in a bid to prevent Libya from leading the entire continent to its long awaited destination of a United States of Africa. This was a huge moment for Western Civilization’s war effort, since a United States of Africa, with its own currency, backed by its own gold, would have definitely humbled Western Civilization. It would have brought about a cataclysmic shift in global power relations which is why Muammar Qaddafi was targeted for annihilation.

‘The Returnees’

The two men accused of the police shootings following the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were both ‘returnees’. Micah Johnson was a 25 year old former US Army reservist who had served in Afghanistan, and Gavin Long was a 29-year-old Marine Corps veteran who had served in Iraq. Long received several awards, including the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Navy Unit Commendation Medal. These two young men were trained to be killers in the ongoing, never ending war waged by Western Civilization. Obama needs to tell us: When US forces bomb wedding parties in Afghanistan and entire apartment blocks in Iraq, killing and maiming men, women, children and the elderly – are these attacks not the work of cowards who speak for no one? Have these wars, waged by Western Civilization righted any wrongs? What causes have been advanced by the unleashing of unimaginable terror and genocide on the populations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria to name just a few of the most recent targets of Western Civilization’s ongoing war.

We need to remind Newt Gingrich that those who he charges with the crime of waging war on Western Civilization –‘ the terrorists’ and so-called ‘Jihadists’ – were and continue to be organized, trained, armed and financed by Western Civilization’s intelligence agencies and the intelligence agencies of their allies – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Pakistan. Let us not forget that Ronald Reagan referred to the ‘jihadists’ who were fighting the Soviet troops in Afghanistan at that time, as freedom fighters. In fact, it was Ronald Reagan who popularized the concept of Jihad in western political circles. These same jihadists were the forerunners of Al Qaeda and ISIL and have been used and manipulated by Western Civilization’s intelligence agencies to fight a number of their dirty wars, leaving behind nothing but mayhem and destruction.

After the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the Arabs who fought with the Afghan mujahideen, all of whom were supported and armed by Western Civilization’s various agencies, returned to their respective countries. Armed with their reactionary Wahhabi ideology they launched ‘jihad’ against what they referred to as ‘secular’ regimes. The same regimes that the ‘Jihadists’ saw as ‘secular’ were nationalist regimes, that each, in their own way, opposed Western Civilization’s domination of their country and the region. Western Civilization’s warlords and generals were quick to realize that they could continue their infiltration and manipulation of these groups of ‘jihadists’ to further the aims and objectives of Western Civilization’s Empire. After all, Al Qaeda means the base and refers to the original database created by the CIA when they were backing these so-called jihadists in Afghanistan. It was their base and they had full access to it.

No meaningful analysis can be made of events taking place in 2016 if we do not have knowledge of the past. We must research and study ‘His-Story’ and ‘Our-Story’, in order to be able to devise an effective strategy of resistance. As military strategist and philosopher, Sun Tzu counsels:

“If you know the enemy and you know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and you know Earth, you may make your victory complete.”

Who is to blame?

Newt Gingrich was certainly right – Western Civilization is in a war. What he failed to point out is that every aspect of this war, this global terror and nihilistic violence we are confronted with in 2016 was spawned by Western Civilization’s agenda for global domination. We must remain focused on the real enemy despite the daily bombardment we receive from Western Civilization’s corporate media about the new bogyman. The creation of bogeymen is a strategy they have used since the beginning of their onslaught to distract us from the real enemy – themselves. It would be comical if it wasn’t so tragic to watch on as they attempt to portray Russia and Vladimir Putin as the new evil. I suspect that in the age of the internet, even those who in the past absorbed Western Civilization’s propaganda as if it was gospel truth, are growing weary.

Following is an excerpt from Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? The book was written by populist conservative, Pat Buchanan. Unlike politically correct liberals, likes of Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton, who never tell it like it is, but rather weave a deceptive narrative to further Western Civilization’s prolonged war; and the likes of Newt Gingrich and his gang who like to throw around words and concepts without having any knowledge whatsoever of the history of Western Civilization; Pat Buchanan, although a staunch defender of Western Civilization, is courageous enough to lay the blame where it rightfully belongs. Perhaps his honesty is motivated by his understanding that the very survival of Western Civilization is in jeopardy if it continues on its present trajectory. In his words:

“We fail to understand what motivated our attackers. They did not come to kill us because they abhor our Constitution, or wish to impose Sharia on Oklahoma. They were over here because we are over there. They came to kill us in our country because we will not get out of their countries. Terrorism is the weapon of the weak who wish to be rid of foreign domination. From Plaines Indians to Afghan mujahideen, from Menachem Begin’s Irgun to the Algerian FLN, from the IRA of Martin McGuinness to the ANC of Nelson Mandela, it has ever been thus. Terrorism is the price of Empire.”

While this self-evident truth is abundantly clear to the rest of us, it is important to note when this truth is finally articulated and documented by one of their own. If this war is ever to end then Newt Gingrich and the rest of Western Civilization must face their own demons.

 

 

[Gerald A. Perreira is a writer, educator, theologian and political activist. He is chairperson of the Guyanese organizations Black Consciousness Movement Guyana (BCMG) and Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP). He is an executive member of the Caribbean Chapter of the Network for Defense of Humanity. He lived in Libya for many years, served in the Green March, an international battalion for the defense of the Al Fateh revolution and was a founding member of the World Mathaba, based in Tripoli, Libya. He can be reached at mojadi94@gmail.com.]

Culture-Jamming Social Media: A Public Health Measure

May 30, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

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As I noted in my comments about the unjust transition of the Break Free campaign, sponsored by 350, it is urgent to stop fossil fuel export for a couple reasons: it creates expedited demand for fracking and new terminal development, and it exhausts our reserves for our own future needs–making it more likely we will turn to nuclear power. Indeed, the idea–promoted by 350–of ending fossil fuel use altogether is a charade used to cover for nuclear power development plans.

The financial backers of 350 and other Wall Street, hedge fund and private equity investors know from intensive studies that oil and gas use is going to continue increasing for a long time, so what we get by following the Break Free game plan is increased fossil fuel use, increased toxic pollution from solar cell manufacture, and an increased likelihood of nuclear power dependence.

The only workable plan is to decrease consumer demand for gasoline and petroleum-based plastic products, and to decrease military usage for wars used to maintain access and control of foreign mineral deposits. Anti-consumerism and anti-war campaigns are the two things that promise the largest climate change payback, and they are omitted from the 350 agenda.

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There is, unfortunately, little public discussion about social engineering through social media, which indicates there is little learning taking place–when there is much to be learned.

In the digital era, we live in a society where thought control is consolidated to such a degree, that few recognize how pervasive social engineering has become in our lives. The constant drumbeat by corporate media (mainstream and alternative) to panic the multitudes into actions orchestrated by corporate NGOs, i.e. Avaaz, Purpose, and 350, stampedes many to react according to these campaigns–choreographed by these marketing agents on the payroll of the financial elite.

Public relations (PR) firms, such as 350, and corrupt alternative media such as Democracy Now!, adhere to the prescribed art of manipulating public opinion on behalf of the financial elite, without anyone questioning, for instance, how it is that millions of people–on several continents–could be reacting in exactly the same way, on the same date, chanting the same slogans. It is, I observe, because the herded are not self-organized, participating in action based on independent research and discussion. Rather, they have ceded their judgment to the central authority of NGOs funded by corporations, laundered through private foundations.

In this aspect, privatized activism subservient to Wall Street–just like government, academia, and media–comprises organizers in it for a career, not as a duty of citizenship, who cater to the agenda of corporate philanthropic funders. This is not democracy in action; it is social tyranny.

The Break Free quotes in the media are a mix of official organizers working for the corporations, and the followers that participated in the staged 350 events. For the most part, they repeat mantras about the salvation of ‘clean energy’ that are corporate fabrications, but widely and uncritically accepted, due to the network drumbeat. This is what Netwar (networked psychological warfare) is all about–drowning out other perspectives, and dominating all forms of communication.

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This creates a sense of panicked urgency that, in turn, drives followers to believe they are on a holy mission–one that exempts them from both social conventions and the law, and that limits the choices for public response to those composed by corporate decision-makers, in order to benefit the corporations. What we need to do is take the time for more discussion, research and education–that doesn’t begin by adopting the assumptions prepackaged by the financial elite.

I think it might help to recount other examples where the public has been coerced or seduced by corporate PR firms into accepting or supporting actions contrary to the public interest, yet very much in the interest of those who pay the PR firms, that stand to profit from public ignorance or complacency. The Gulf War, Iraq War, War in Afghanistan, War in Libya, and War in Syria were all based on PR fabrications–intended to mislead public opinion, and to stampede public officials into urgent actions–that later turned out to be harmful to the public interest.

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The same thing happened with the bank bailouts, and is now repeating itself in the false hope of 350s corporate-funded propaganda about climate change adaptation. One might get the impression from all this that the public never learns, has given up, or doesn’t care.

On the other hand, perhaps the majority of citizens are now either addicts, cynics or fanatics, resulting in an impossible organizing task for sober, constructive engagement in public affairs. Either way, culture-jamming social media–that promotes hysteria–is a public health measure.

 

 

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted Indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

R2P: The Theatre of Catastrophe

Wrong Kind of Green

April 28, 2016

By Jay Taber

 

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Above: Avaaz  and Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans

Purpose Avaaz Syria-Campaign-HIRE

The Syria Campaign Facebook PURPOSE Screenshot

Under the neoliberal model of global conquest–exhibited by the heavy-hitters of the UN Security Council (i.e. USA, France and UK) in countries such as Burundi, Mali, Libya and Syria–the recurrent chorus line R2P-R2P-R2P-R2P from pro-war, social media marketing agencies like Avaaz, Purpose and Amnesty International is what the European writer Federica Bueti described as the ‘theatre of catastrophe’ that dramatically changes the way we live. The crises of the war economy concocted by these heavy-hitters throughout the world, then, become stage sets where the drama of neoliberal heroism can be enacted.

Performance extras such as the Purpose subsidiary White Helmets—good guys always wear white hats—funded by USAID, play the role of innocent victims, thus justifying the need for the heavy-hitters to ride to the rescue. Or, in the case of modern warfare, to bomb the hell out of the designated villain(s).

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New York Times Avaaz Ad, June 18, 2015. Headline: “PRESIDENT OBAMA, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?” …“A majority of Americans support a No-Fly Zone in Syria to save lives and 1,093,775 people around the world [in an on-line petition] are calling for action now.” The photograph used in the ad is from the Anadolu Agency.

As Bueti observes, catastrophe has ‘become a rhetorical tool used to reinforce a general state of anxiety’ and ‘the rhetoric of crisis suggests a daily apocalyptic scenario in which preventive measures and special interventions are required to ensure the survival of neoliberal forms of governance’. The crisis as a constructed event–in which the media plays a major role–she says, ‘has succeeded in producing a peculiar representation of catastrophe with devastating social effect’ that, due to the urgency of immediate intervention, ‘has produced an opaque filter through which it is almost impossible either to understand the causes and consequences of the current crisis or to see a way out of it’.

Avaaz Obama jpg

“People write congratulatory messages to President-elect Barack Obama on a 24-foot long message board in front of the Lincoln Memorial November 6, 2008 in Washington, DC. The organization Avaaz.org has set up a global message board at the memorial with display of messages from all around the world for people to write their notes to Obama.”

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 29: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks while flanked by Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) during a campaign rally, on October 29, 2010 in Charlottesville, Va. Recent polls show Rep. Perriello trailing challenger Virginia State Senator Robert Hurt (R-VA). With mid-term elections approaching, President Obama has been campaigning for Democrats who may be in jeopardy of losing their seat. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

October 29, 2010: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks while Avaaz co-founder Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) looks on during a campaign rally, on October 29, 2010 in Charlottesville, Va.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Writing further, Bueti notes, ‘In Greek theatre, catastrophe designates the moment preceding the final resolution of the plot. In breaking with the rhythm of the narration and moving from one side of the stage to the other, catastrophe creates a moment of suspension of emphatic participation in the staged event. This moment allows the author to directly address the audience through the Chorus, which represented both the voice of the author and the one of the politeia, or Athenian citizens. …In the moment of kata-strephein, the staged dilemma of the individual hero becomes the shared dilemma of the whole of community, eventually creating a temporary event of solidarity’.

As Bueti reflects, ‘From a strictly pedagogical perspective, the Chorus is the moral representative of the polis and of its institutions, the bearer of a certain order that needs to be endlessly confirmed and reiterated’. When the heavy-hitters of the UN Security Council prepare to pound the constructed villain(s) into oblivion, it is the heavily-armed proxies of the heavy-hitters that produce the conditions creating moral catastrophe that the chorus cheers on toward a happy ending. As Bueti concludes, ‘Apocalyptic scenarios, in this case, possess a restorative dimension in which the hero will save the world from an imminent disaster’.

 

Further reading

THE PURPOSE OF AVAAZ: CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

Wag the Dog: Campaigns of Purpose

 

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted Indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

 

Smart Power & The Human Rights Industrial Complex

UK Column

March 15, 2016

by Patrick Henningsen

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Human rights in the West: does the reality live up to the rhetoric? On the surface, the cultural narrative seems innocent enough: billionaire philanthropists, political luminaries and transnational corporations, along with legions of staff and volunteers – all working together in the name of social justice, forging a better, fairer and more accountable world.

The story reads well on paper, and well it should. After all, the 20th century saw a string of failures by various governments to curb and halt some of the most horrific exhibitions of genocide and crimes against humanity. The door has been opened for many charities and human rights organizations to play a bigger role in moderating international affairs. Upon more rigorous inspection, however, what emerges is one of the most unfortunate realities of 21st century geopolitics. Though many human rights charities still market themselves as ‘neutral’ and ‘nonpartisan’, the reality is something very different. With public skepticism at an all-time high, the danger is clear: if conflicts of interest are not addressed in a serious way, they threaten to undermine the credibility of the entire non-governmental organization (NGO) sector internationally.

One difficult aspect in analyzing this struggle for ‘perception management’ is that most human rights and aid organizations are staffed and run by good, hard-working and extremely well-educated individuals, many of whom carry out their roles with an altruistic heart and with the best of intentions. For the most part, many remain unaware or uninterested in who actually funds their organisations and what those financial strings mean in terms of the what a given organisation’s stance will be on any range of geopolitical issues or military conflicts. It’s certainly true that over the years, sincere and dedicated campaigning by organisations has helped to free individuals who where unjustly imprisoned and achieved due process and justice for the dispossessed. It’s also true that many of these same organizations have helped to raise awareness on many important social and environmental issues.

Due to increased funding from corporate interests and direct links to government and policy think tanks in recent years, these organisations have become even more politicised, and more closely connected with western ‘agents of influence.’ As a result, an argument can be made that, on many levels, these ‘human rights’ organisations may be contributing to the very problem they profess to be working to abate: causing more suffering, death and instability worldwide through their co-marketing of the foreign policy objectives of Washington, London, Paris and Brussels.

The problem is both systemic and institutional in nature. As a result, many of the western world’s leading human rights organizations based in North America and Europe have become mirror reflections of a western foreign policy agenda and have become virtual clearing houses for interventionist propaganda.

Writer Stephanie McMillan describes the new role of the non governmental organizations in the 21st century:

Along with military invasions and missionaries, NGOs help crack countries open like ripe nuts, paving the way for intensifying waves of exploitation and extraction.

Outsourcing Consensus Building

Shaping western public perception and opinion on major international issues is essential if major world powers are to realise their foreign policy goals. Not surprisingly, we can see that many of the public positions taken by NGOs are exactly aligned with western foreign policy. In the Balkans War of the 1990’s, human rights groups supported partitioning. In the Ukraine in 2014 and with both Syria and Yemen in 2016 they supported regime change. In each instance NGOs function as public relations extension to a United Nations western member Security Council bloc, namely the US, UK and France. This collusion is manifest throughout the upper echelons of these organizations whose streamlined agenda conforms through a lucrative revolving door which exists between a cartel of western NGOs, government and media.

As western governments find themselves more heavily involved in long-term conflicts around the globe, the need to outsource their ethics and morals to NGOs becomes more apparent. Continuity between these symbiotic entities is essential if governments are to successfully frame the geopolitical narratives on which international human rights organizations so often derive their own public relations and fundraising campaigns. Together, all of these things converge to form a highly efficient, functioning alliance which could be described as a type of ‘government-media-human rights’ industrial complex.

Nowhere is this complex more evident than with the United States-led foreign policy towards Syria. By framing the Syrian Conflict (2011 to present) as a “civil war”, both western media and human rights organizations did their part in propping-up an important western foreign policy narrative. Inaccurate and distorted, this narrative has helped shield the US-led clandestine proxy war which has been allowed to carry on almost unimpeded below the surface narrative of western public perception. For mainstream US audiences, if truly known, the reality of Syria might be too much to bear – a US-backed guerrilla war where Washington and Ankara, along with NATO and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies, flooding Turkey and Syria with weapons, cash, equipment, social media teams, military trainers and foreign fighters from as a far away as Pakistan. When analyzed from this wider perspective, very little is ‘civil’ about the Syrian Conflict.

The Human Rights Industry

What was once a 20th century adjunct to an emerging international progressive movement has since mushroomed into a 21st century multi-billion dollar, internationalised ‘third sector’ concern – underwritten by some of the world’s leading transnational corporations. This impressive labyrinth is led by organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the Worldwide Human Rights Movement (FIDH). Each of these organisations has well-developed links leading directly into central governments, and perhaps more surprisingly, links leading straight into the heart of the military industrial complex. Safely cloaked under the official guise of ‘charity organisation’, many of these entities push a political agenda and effectively serve as public relations outlets for US and NATO forward military planning.

Working behind the public-facing human rights industrial complex is another key component which helps set the geopolitical agenda. Leading western governmental efforts are the White House and the US State Department. Behind the political facade, however, is where the real work takes place; a myriad of think tanks which serve as an unofficial academic-like support structure for managing policy planning, rolling out grand strategies and other big ideas. Some recognisable names in this industry are the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Brookings Institute, Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and Foreign Policy Initiative (the heir apparent to PNAC). These think tanks and foundations are also referred to as ‘policy mills’ because of their ability to churn-out volumes of policy ‘white papers’, surveys and strategic studies which are then disseminated through various industry journals and at functions, conferences and events in Washington DC and New York City. Certain think tanks, like the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, were set-up in the 1990’s to push through specific foreign policy objectives – like kick-starting the war in Iraq. Where you find a war, you most certainly will find a think tank advocating behind it.

Follow the Money

To find the common thread between think tanks, foundations and human rights charities, one needs only to follow the money.

Many of these entities receive large portions of their funding from the same sources – transnational corporations. One large contributor of annual funding for human rights organisations, including HRW, is the controversial Wall Street billionaire George Soros, through his NGO the Open Society Institute. Other human rights organisations like FIDH which draw together some 178 organizations from 120 countries, receives funding from the US State Department by way of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Here we have a direct financial link which forms a ring connecting western governments, NGOs and charities.

One can argue, and successfully, that this nexus ensures that the output, ideas and marketing messages of each leg of a human rights campaign conforms to western foreign policy language and objectives.

Smart Power: Formerly of the US State Dept., now an NGO luminary, Suzanne Nossel

Washington’s HR Revolving Door

It’s no secret that a revolving door exists between the US State Department and many of the western world’s leading human rights organisations. That relationship can be gleaned from this CFR policy paper which states:

To advance from a nuanced dissent to a compelling vision, progressive policymakers should turn to the great mainstay of twentieth-century U.S. foreign policy: liberal internationalism, which posits that a global system of stable liberal democracies would be less prone to war … Washington, the theory goes, should thus offer assertive leadership – diplomatic, economic, and not least, military – to advance a broad array of goals: self-determination, human rights, free trade, the rule of law, economic development, and the quarantine and elimination of dictators and weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

That passage, taken in the context of the Syrian conflict, reveals a stark picture of how Washington really works. It was written by Suzanne Nossel, one of Washington’s most high-profile humanitarian advocates who managed to transition seamlessly from her position as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organisations at the US State Department – directly into an executive director position at Amnesty International USA in 2012. Prior to the State Dept., Nossel was also served as chief operating officer for Human Rights Watch, vice president of strategy and operations at the Wall Street Journal and a media and communications consultant to CFR founding corporate member, law firm McKinsey & Company.

Here we see a powerful public relations resumé, combined with established links to Washington’s foreign policy core, and at a time where multiple Middle Eastern nations states, like Libya and Syria, were being forced into submission under the yoke of US-led international pressure. Projecting Washington’s preferred narrative is paramount in this multilateral effort and Nossel would be a key bridge in helping to project US foreign policy messaging internationally through top tier NGO Amnesty.

2012 Amnesty International USA PR campaign.

Around this time, Amnesty USA launched a new PR campaign aimed at millennials and selling the following geopolitical narrative: “NO MORE EXCUSES: Russia has vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions while continually supplying arms, causing the violence to worsen.”

This digital and print campaign was also backed by rallies and other live events used to promote their anti-Russia and Anti-Syria PR effort. At one event in 2012, young school children in Nepal could be seen holding up signs that read, “Russia: Stop Arms Transfer to Syria!”.

When you consider its mirror reflection of foreign policy lines emanating from the US State Dept., it’s easy to see how this catchy slogan had little if anything to do with human rights, but but could easily be viewed as trying to isolate both the Russian and Syrian governments geopolitically.

In truth, Amnesty’s narrative was a complete inversion: while attempting to lay the blame on Russia as being responsible for the escalation and sustained violence in Syria, the country was being over-run by tens of thousands of foreign terrorist militants, illegally trafficked weapons, along with CIA and other foreign assets, as part of the wider US-led Coalition presently waging a proxy war in Syria.

Soft Power vs Smart Power

Despite its foreign policy aspirations, the West still needs public opinion backing for any military action. While the public are none the wiser, blinded by the fog of mass media coverage and bombarded with faux moral imperatives and ‘ticking bomb’ style scenarios demanding that, “we must act now to save innocent lives” – soft power agents have provided the crucial communication bridge for most interventions.

Both media and NGOs fall under the classification of ‘soft power’, and it is this soft power complex which provides the soft cushion upon which soft-sounding foreign policies like “humanitarian intervention” and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) can comfortably rest on in western discourse. In reality, these foreign policies are anything but soft, and in the absence of declaring war between nation states – these policies now serve as the tip of an imperialist spear. If you surveyed any of the millions of Middle Eastern residents on the receiving end of the west’s recent humanitarian interventions they will tell you it was anything but soft – especially for the people living in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Yugoslavia and Iraq.

Inside Washington’s inner sanctum, ‘soft power’ has given way to Smart Power. Indeed, it was Susan Nossel who coined the term “Smart Power” while working alongside US humanitarian hawks like Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, and also with Washington’s lesser known Atrocity Prevention Board, all of whom worked to successfully implement this new range of intervention marketing concepts including humanitarian intervention and R2P.

In this age of professionally staged colour revolutions and ‘Arab Springs’, and wars fought by proxies and front organizations – vaunted human rights organisations should really acknowledge that there are nation-states and central governments who are not long for this world, and who are literally fighting for their survival. Governments who find themselves under the western hammer cannot always afford the luxury of settling internal disputes nicely, or putting down armed rebel factions and terrorists with all affordable due process. If these rebels or terrorists are western-backed, or GCC-backed, then this condition becomes more acute. Certainly, the United States and its NATO allies, or Israel for that matter, do not afford such civility for any of its victims of collateral damage’ or during a protracted ‘humanitarian intervention’.

‘Agents of Change’ & Emotive Appeals

By now, it’s also a well-documented fact that America’s CIA and Pentagon intelligence departments have used an array of charities, aid organisations, and even religious missionary organisations as fronts for conducting espionage overseas, and with the prime directive of to further foreign policy objectives.

In recent years, however, under the banner of ‘human rights’, the US has developed some new and innovative methods of intelligence gathering and achieving an increased military footprint in new countries.

To reach these objectives, western governments enlist ‘change agents’.

No story serves as a better example of how a human rights organisation can be applied as a sharp tool of foreign policy than Kony 2012, described by the Atlantic Magazine as a viral video campaign which “reinforces a dangerous, centuries-old idea that Africans are helpless and that idealistic Westerners must save them.”

As viral social media campaigns go, Kony 2012 set a new standard for speed and efficiency in penetrating the western youth market. This effort was not with out help from mainstream corporate media in the US, and also from the US government in Washington DC.

Here, soft power was applied in order to manufacture public consent through an emotive public appeal which was eventually exposed as a gross distortion of reality. In this case, the antagonist was the illusive warlord Joseph Kony, leader of the Lords Resistance Army. According to their campaign, if the president could send a military force to “find Kony”, then many children would be saved in the process. The only problem was that no one had actually seen Kony in over 6 years, with rumors abound that Kony may even have died years earlier. This did not deter the campaign though, as organisers pressed ahead, raising millions along the way. The human rights charity which fronted the project, Invisible Children, actually targeted their viral campaign and fundraising drive at under aged American school children, and even drafted primary school students to raise money on the charity’s behalf. In the end, the project collapsed, but the ultimate objective was achieved: culminating with a successful public relations event and photo opportunity at the White House, and under cover of the Kony 2012 media campaign – President Barack Obama publicly deployed US military assets to Uganda under an expansion of US AFRICOM operations in Africa.

Trapped inside their own ideological controlled environment where every decision is a virtual fait accompli, western media and government officials will routinely refer to the human rights industry in order to provide a necessary moral back-stop for any foreign policy objective. This same practice is also repeated by the United Nations too, which often cites the very same statistics and reports used by Washington to back-up its foreign policy moves.

Independent human rights activist Rick Sterling explains this all too familiar cycle in today’s international affairs:

There is a pattern of sensational but untrue reports that lead to public acceptance of US and Western military intervention in countries around the world: In Gulf War 1, there were reports of Iraqi troops stealing incubators from Kuwait, leaving babies to die on the cold floor. Relying on the testimony of a Red Crescent doctor, Amnesty International ‘verified’ the false claims. Ten years later, there were reports of ‘yellow cake uranium’ going to Iraq for development of weapons of mass destruction. One decade later, there were reports of Libyan soldiers ‘drugged on Viagra and raping women as they advanced.’ In 2012, NBC broadcaster Richard Engel was supposedly kidnapped by ‘pro-Assad Syrian militia’ but luckily freed by Syrian opposition fighters, the “Free Syrian Army”. All these reports were later confirmed to be fabrications and lies. They all had the goal of manipulating public opinion and they all succeeded in one way or another. Despite the consequences, which were often disastrous, none of the perpetrators were punished or paid any price.

Strange Bedfellows: NATO, Amnesty and HRW

It’s no coincidence that nearly every foreign policy front the US State Department has prioritised is mirrored by Amnesty International USA. The US State Department together with the Pentagon, will also utilise social justice issues in order to advance a foreign policy objective. The most potent of these has to be gender identity politics, seen through the western lens as “woman’s rights”. By projecting this issue on to a non-favoured’ nation, western war planners can quickly construct an important leg in foreign policy messaging.

In 2012, Amnesty International USA ran a national billboard campaign with images depicting Afghan women and girls, accompanied by the slogan: “NATO: Keep the Progress Going.” Not surprisingly, at this same moment, western media were referring to NATO’s military operation in Afghanistan as “the first feminist war.” In its totality, this is one example of near perfect streamlined marketing campaign which tied together all branches of the interventionist network – the US State Department, the Pentagon, the mainstream media and Amnesty International. This cynical attempt to manipulate public opinion by Amnesty International, on behalf of the Pentagon and Brussels, could be traced back to one Amnesty patron, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who in the 1990’s, famously remarked, “We think the price is worth it,” referring to the death of a half million Iraqi children as a result of crippling US economic sanctions.

In early 2015, Ken Roth, Director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted out an aerial image purporting to be from Kobane, Syria, showing a neighborhood reduced to rubble which he described as, “a drone’s eye tour of what Assad’s barrel bombs have done to Aleppo.” It turned out that Roth’s tweet was a forgery. The image he used was actually taken from Gaza the previous summer, showing the destruction of Palestinian neighborhoods at the hands of Israel’s IDF. This was another example of slipshod propaganda disseminated by high profile human right organization – expressly designed to demonise a foreign government that Washington nation builders are seeking to overthrow. It’s no surprise then that HRW would also appoint CIA operative Miguel Diaz to serve on its advisory board, or that Javier Solana, former Secretary General of NATO and architect of the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia (a war which HRW itself condemned in 2000) also serves on HRW’s board of directors.

Beyond the slick marketing and celebrity endorsements, in all actuality HRW is nothing more than a Cold War era propaganda relic which has been retrofitted to serve a 21st century Atlanticist geopolitical agenda. According to Washington DC-based transparency advocate Keane Bhatt, “HRW was originally called Helsinki Watch. It was created in 1978 during the Cold War to scrutinize and criticize the crimes that were being committed by the USSR and its allies. That Cold War ideology has long played a role in the kinds of priorities and advocacy that HRW engages in”.

Syria’s NGO Kaleidoscope

One of the most egregious examples of a NGO being used to reinforce a US-led geopolitical narrative is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), created in 2006. Beyond the grandiose name, this ‘organisation’ is basically a one-man show which until recently, was run out of a one bedroom apartment in Coventry, England. SOHR is run by a Syrian dissident named Osama Ali Suleiman, commonly known in the media as “Rahmi Abdul Rahman”. The SOHR has played the key role in developing the all-important “facts on the ground” story for the Washington-London-Paris Axis seeking to topple the government in Damascus through its stoic policy of ‘regime change’ in Syria. When it comes to ‘official’ death toll numbers out of Syria, almost every mainstream report in the US and Europe has cited the SOHR as its data source with hardly a passing thought as to either the accuracy or the credibility of its numbers, and under which category death tolls are counted.

Despite the fact that the SOHR is closely affiliated with the US and UK-backed Syrian opposition, its data sets will often include casualty figures of ‘rebel forces’ (which will often include known foreign terrorist fighters) within its civilian casualty figures. These dubious figures are also used by a number of UN agencies, as well as leading human right organisations. Similarly, US, UK and European officials will frequently attribute a figure of 250,000 ‘Syrian deaths’ to civilians killed by “the regime” embodied by President Bashar al Assad. One week, a western official will quote a number of 150,000, and the next week it will be 350,000. As a result, most mainstream reports of Syria’s casualty figures are rife with bias and methodological inconsistencies, and as a result no one really seems to know the real figure. The larger the number, the more passionate the plea for western military intervention. Even the Council of the Foreign Relations is on record stating that the numbers being cited by the likes of John McCain simply don’t add up. Micah Zenko and Amelia M. Wolf of the CFR admitted in 2014 that, “most of the reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command.” Meanwhile, western media, politicians and human rights organisations routinely ignore the fact that over 100,000 deaths since 2011 have been Syrian Army and Security personnel killed by foreign-backed militants and terrorists. Zenko later added that, “the types of interventions that proponents have endorsed for Syria … have almost nothing to do with how Syrian non-combatants are actually being killed.”

While the Syrian Conflict is a messy and tragic affair, with brutality and violence affecting every side of the fighting, readers should note exactly how this subtle, yet relentless western campaign of disinformation feeds neatly into the western policy of regime change embodied in the rhetorical demand that “Assad must go.” John Glaser from Antiwar.com adds here:

A common policy proposal to mitigate the mass suffering in Syria is for the U.S. to help the rebels and undermine the Assad regime, a scheme that just becomes ludicrous after looking at the data.

It should also be noted that the SOHR receives its funding directly from the EU, and also enjoys substantial support from the British Foreign Office – both of whom are actively seeking to overthrow the government in Syria through guerrilla proxies. At the very least this could be described as a conflict of interest. The SOHR is hardly ‘non partisan’ and more likely to be used as a tool to manufacture consensus for humanitarian intervention in Syria.

Intervention Digital Marketing

They say that ‘the road to tyranny is paved with good intentions’. That old adage couldn’t be more true today, despite all of our seemingly wonderful internet tools and ‘activist’ platforms online.

A key set piece in any nation building or humanitarian intervention is the ‘No Fly Zone’. Made famous during NATO’s Balkans War in Yugoslavia, the US-led Gulf Wars for Iraq, and later with NATO Libya, securing a No Fly Zone is essential for dictating the terms and conditions of any interventionalist program. The term has since developed an elastic quality and has been subtly altered into what many now refer to a “Safe Zone”, the idea being that by securing the skies above with western air power, the people below will be ‘safe.’

However, it’s still become a hard-sell because of negative connotations associated with past unpopular operation that have been viewed western wars of aggression. New technology is needed in order to repackage and market this damaged brand.

WANTED FULL 2

The internet and social networking have provided just that, where a myriad of social networking online petition web portals have been launched in recent years, the most prominent of which is the online organization Avaaz.org was co-founded in 2007 by Res Publica and Moveon.org, and whose funding sources include the George Soros’ Open Society umbrella foundation network. Key founders and players include Tom Perriello, Ricken Patel, Tom Pravda, Jeremy Heimans, David Madden, Eli Pariser and Andrea Woodhouse, each of whom have working relationships with the UN and World Bank, and coordinate with US-controlled institutions like the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council.

According to the Avaaz website, their mission is to “organise citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.”

Non-profit Avaaz works closely with its for-profit arm, New York City-based PR firm Purpose, which refers to itself as a “proud public benefit corporation.”

It is important to understand that by their own admission, these organizations are not meant to be purely altruistic, but rather are enterprise businesses. In her article entitled “The Rise of the Movement Entrepreneur and its Impact on Business”, writer Allison Goldberg explains the ‘big idea’ which is used a wrapping for their self-styled social license:

The rise of new technology has drastically lowered the barrier to movement creation while providing an alternative to established institutions, formerly seen as the route to reform. Instead of relying on government bodies or other established organizations often weighed down by bureaucracy, entrepreneurs are utilizing the power of social media to mobilize the masses in favor of large-scale change. As a result, organizations have arisen such as Avaaz.org, which defines itself as “the campaigning community bringing people-powered politics to decision-making worldwide.” Avaaz now boasts seven million members worldwide.

Together, Avaaz and Purpose create the language and the online consensus-building tools. While maintaining the illusion of grassroots activists advocating for human rights, the core function of their public relations campaigns are outcome-based, or to help herd public opinion in order to provide a pretext for multilateral institutions like the the IMF and NATO to implement programs like economic sanctions, or  military intervention.

One of the Avaaz ‘Safe Zone’ campaigns for Syria in 2012-2013

In 2012 and 2013, Avaaz campaigns featured a number of large online petitions which demanded that international bodies (like the UN) send “3,000 international monitors” into the country, and that Western military powers (like NATO) impose a ‘No-Fly Zone’ over the entire country in order to “save innocent lives.” One petion read as follows:

To the Arab League, European Union, United States, and Friends of Syria: As global citizens, we call on you to take immediate action to stop the deadly terror in Syria. Enough is enough. We ask you to immediately demand a ceasefire to stop the bloodshed so that parties can come to the negotiating table to agree on a way forward. Until a ceasefire is reached, we call on you to work together and with the international community to enforce a no fly zone to stop the bombardment of Syria’s civilians and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those most in need.

Again, another NGO public relations messaging campaign mirroring foreign policy planks from the US State Department and Washington’s defense community.

On Avaaz’s website you can often find a number of sensational claims. During their No-Fly-Zone campaign cycle this statement appeared:

The Syrian air force just dropped chlorine gas bombs on children. Their little bodies gasped for air on hospital stretchers as medics held back tears, and watched as they suffocated to death.

Unfortunately, the incident in question never actually happened.

Rick Sterling explains:

Many well-intentioned but naive members of the U.S. and international public are again being duped into signing an Avaaz petition based on fraud and misinformation. If the campaign succeeds in leading to a No Fly Zone in Syria, it will result in vastly increased war, mayhem and bloodshed.

The following illustration outlines to sequence of events that eventually lead to Avaaz calling for a ‘No Fly Zone’ in Syria.

One organization championed in Avaaz marketing campaigns is a ‘neutral’ organization called the Syrian Civil Defense also known as the ‘White Helmets‘.

Writer Vanessa Beeley explains the all-too familiar funding sources for the White Helmets in her article entitled, Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception – Part I:

The White Helmets were established in March 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey, and is headed by James Le Mesurier, a British “security” specialist and ‘ex’-British military intelligence officer with an impressive track record in some of the most dubious NATO intervention theatres including Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. Le Mesurier is a product of Britain’s elite Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, and has also been placed in a series of high-profile pasts at the United Nations, European Union, and U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The origins of The White Helmet’s initial $300k seed funding is a little hazy, reports are contradictory but subsequent information leads us to conclude that the UK, US and the ‘Syrian opposition’ (or Syrian National Council, parallel government backed an funded by the US, UK and allies) are connected. Logistical support has been provided and given by Turkish elite natural disaster response team, AKUT. A further $13 million was poured into the White Helmet coffers during 2013 and this is where it gets interesting. Early reports suggest that these “donations” came from the US, UK and SNC with the previously explored connections to George Soros in the US. However, subsequent investigations reveal that USAID has been a major shareholder in the White Helmet organisation. The website for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) claims that, “our work supports long-term and equitable economic growth and advances U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting: economic growth, agriculture and trade; global health; and, democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance.” In a USAID report update in July 2015 it is clearly stated that they have supplied over $ 16m in assistance to the White Helmets.

Regarding USAID, Beeley adds that:

The USAID track record as a primary US Government/CIA regime change facilitator is extensively documented. From South America to the Ukraine and in the Middle East, USAID serve a malevolent and ultimately destructive role in the dismantling of sovereign nations and their reduction to western hegemony vassal states, as always, all in the name of freedom and democracy.

Even more crucial in this case, is evidence that links the White Helmets to militant fighting groups in Syria, including al Nusra Front (al Qaeda in Syria). While this does not prove anything beyond association between members of both organizations, it’s significant when one considers that both organizations are receiving material and financial support from the same member nations of the US-led Coalition.

Geopolitically Correct

For all practical purposes, as a moral and ethical tenet, ‘human rights’ is an anomaly in any western military action.

How one frames a story determines its thesis. In the 21st century, the concept of human rights has been weaponised, pointed at nonaligned and independent nation-states who are seen as obstacles to American and European market-makers and nation builders. A number of target states not geopolitically aligned with the US, NATO or the GCC, are yet to be absorbed, seduced, conquered, or as in the case of Libya, completely collapsed, or in the case of Syria – completely dismembered. These include states listed by former US General and NATO Supreme Commander, Wesley Clark, in his Commonwealth Club speech in San Francisco in 2007. During the event, Clark intimated a conversation he had after a classified defense briefing where a Pentagon source had told him weeks after 9/11 of the Pentagon’s plan to attack Iraq, as well as a “coup” being plotted by Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz along with “a half dozen other collaborators from the Project for the New American Century”. According to Clark, his told him about seven countries which were slated for overthrow: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.

It should also be noted that both Wesley Clark and George Soros serve on the board of trustees of The International Crisis Group.

For any of these unlucky states, a sustained US or ‘Coalition’ military campaign means that a nation can be under attack 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and yet, that nation and its residents are given no quarter by western human rights organizations, governments or media. A perfect example of this is Saudi Arabia’s highly illegal undeclared war of aggression against its neighbor Yemen which began in the spring of 2015.

It’s worth noting here, that despite its own hotly contested human rights record, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was somehow managed to get elected to the UN’s prestigious Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Evidence suggests that this appointment was facilitated in part by British officials as part of a larger quid pro quo arrangement. According to classified Saudi foreign ministry files that were passed to Wikileaks in June 2015, and translated by Geneva-based UN Watch and revealed how UK initiated the secret negotiations by asking Saudi Arabia for its support. Eventually, both countries were elected to the 47 member state UNHRC. The following passage from the leaked cables reveals how a clear deal was struck:

The ministry might find it an opportunity to exchange support with the United Kingdom, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would support the candidacy of the United Kingdom to the membership of the council for the period 2014-2015 in exchange for the support of the United Kingdom to the candidacy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

According to The Guardian another cable revealed a Saudi Arabia transfer of $100,000 for “expenditures resulting from the campaign to nominate the Kingdom for membership of the human rights council for the period 2014-2016”. At the time of their report, no one knows how this money was spent.

In addition, it was later shown that Saudi Arabia pledged $1 million to UNHRC prior to winning the its seat. Then rather amazingly (or not), in the fall of 2015, the UN appointed Saudi as Chair of the UNHRC.

When pressed on the matter, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said, “as is standard practice with all members, we never reveal our voting intentions or the way we vote.”

This was followed by a standard, throwaway PR platitude:

The British government strongly promotes human rights around the world and we raise our human rights concerns with the Saudi Arabian authorities.

While its commendable that Saudi officials would want to take a leading role in advocating for international human rights, one cannot ignore the political hypocrisy at play considering Riyadh’s own soiled laundry regarding this issue which includes, among other items, the sanctioning of more than a 150 beheadings in 2015 – a number believed to be even higher than Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS).

To make matters worse, the controversial Saudi appointment also took place amid the a new diplomatic row over a lucrative UK prison building contract in the Kingdom and the proposed execution of 17 year old Shia student activist, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was sentenced to ‘death by crucifixion’ for joining an anti-government demonstration.

Consider the amount of political and media campaigning against the government of Syria over numerous and largely unfounded allegations, where an international network comprised of the US State Department, UK Foreign Office, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) lobby, HRW and humanitarian interventionist luminaries are all backing a policy of regime change in Syria – and then contrast this with Saudi Arabia’s proven record on human rights and abuse of power. It’s impossible not to see the double standard.

As far as the Western political establishment are concerned, if there are any human rights violations or any local casualties mounting in one of its many dirty wars, geopolitical correctness dictates that these are either ignored or neatly filed away as an inconvenient consequence of America’s ‘national security’ or an unfortunate byproduct “collateral damage” along the road to international progress, peace and prosperity (democracy). Because it crosses swords with the US State Department, or NATO HQ, pubic pressure by humanitarian organizations like HRW and Amnesty USA is relatively nonexistent.

Outside of the theater of combat, the international community is also faced with the inconvenient dilemma of illegal detentions of supposed ‘enemy combatants’, ‘enhanced interrogation’ (torture) and ‘extrajudicial killings’ (assassinations). These are the politically correct terms for the age of western militarisation.

Again, because of “bad optics” in Washington DC very little attention or pressure is applied by marquee international human rights charities.

The human rights industry also has its own politically correct lexicon and identifiers like ‘defectors’, ‘detainees’, ‘activists’ and a new emerging category of ‘activist-journalists’. Sometimes these terms can be accurate, but in a war theater like Syria, they are often euphemisms for actors in full spectrum information warfare. In the case of Syria, this information warfare is designed to embolden a foreign-backed opposition, but more importantly, to apply sustained public relations pressure towards an end goal of regime change.

The WMD Ritual

Conjuring a ‘WMD’ subplot in order to trigger a humanitarian intervention has become commonplace in western foreign policy. After being exposed as a momentous lie in Iraq in 2003, this set-back did not stop Washington from aggressively  pursuing the same narrative in Syria in 2013. Fortunately, the Syrian WMD narrative collapsed in the aftermath of a failed false flag Sarin gas attack that turned out to be orchestrated by US Coalition-backed ‘moderate’ rebels52. It was hardly a coincidence then to discover that HRW was the NGO tasked with providing the ‘smoking gun’ Washington and London needed to make their R2P case in August 2013.

Elizabeth Palmer reported for CBS News at the time, “on Tuesday, the group Human Rights Watch issued a report that said evidence strongly implies that Syrian government troops’ firing of rockets containing a nerve agent into a Damascus suburb on August 21 that the U.S. said killed over 1,400 people.” In the end, this turned out to be another epic lie.

While the US-led ‘Coalition’ is quick to seize upon spurious WMD narratives against its geopolitical targets, it will routinely ignore common Geneva Convention violations like Israel’s use of deadly white phosphorous in Gaza, the use of depleted uranium munitions by American military units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabian cluster bombs being dropped on Yemeni civilians.

Western Institutionalised Bias

Wars, whether conventional or covert, are a dirty business.

One argument that the western human rights industry judicially avoids is that an armed opposition cannot rightly be classified as a ‘political opposition’, so long as it is armed. This could certainly be the case in Syria. Syrian president Assad explained this dilemma during his 2015 interview with CBS News anchor Charlie Rose, stating that “whenever you hold a gun, and kill people, and destroy public buildings, destroy private properties, that’s terrorism.”

Although most foreign policy officials in Washington DC would beg to differ, especially if the opposition in question is receiving weapons, cash or logistical support from the US or its allies. Assad futher clarifies the position and also exposes the fallacy in western rhetoric, explaining:

The word opposition, everywhere in the world, including your country, is a political opposition. Do you have military opposition in the United States? Would you accept it? You wouldn’t, and we wouldn’t. No-one accepts military opposition.

During his speech at Columbia University in 2006, Australian journalist and filmmaker John Pilger explained:

The oldest cliché is that truth is the first casualty of war. I disagree. Journalism is the first casualty. Not only that: it has become a weapon of war, a virulent censorship that goes unrecognized in the United States, Britain, and other democracies; censorship by omission, whose power is such that, in war, it can mean the difference between life and death for people in faraway countries.

Pilger’s reference can especially be applied to the institutional media bias that has underpinned the long running international war which the Middle East and Central Asia finds itself currently embroiled in. Some might argue that even if western human rights organisations could somehow be cured of their systemic bias towards Washington and CFR foreign policy narratives –  their needs to be an overhaul in defining the concept and the context of what ‘human rights’ are in real terms. A fresh look needs to take into account a level of western subterfuge which maybe western politicians and media are not yet ready  to acknowledge.

In Conclusion

Indeed, it was ‘human rights’ campaigning which led directly to the illegal bombing of Libya (NATO’s aggressive bombing campaign in Libya was not authorized in the UNSC Resolution 1973 which only called for a ‘No-Fly Zone’, and should therefore be considered illegal under international law), where the West’s sole intent was to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi. Regrettably, thousands of innocent civilians died in the process and the nation state of Libya quickly collapsed, separating into sub-regional, tribal and lawless militant enclaves.

The lesson of Libya was stark. The world should have taken note, but unfortunately it did not. Instead, onlookers saw then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, when asked during a CBS News interview about the removal of the Libyan president, could only cackle and laughingly joke, “we came, we saw, he died.”

Is this the new tone of humanitarianism?

Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch regularly solicit support from Hollywood celebrities and international recording artists, and spend millions of dollars per year producing films which depict situations around the world through their own political lens. To date, they have yet to produce a film showing the other unsavory side of the ‘rebel insurgency’ in Syria. Is this because that might undermine the entire US and NATO member foreign policy?

The public and private sponsors of NGO’s like HRW and Amnesty have invested, not donated, hundreds of millions collectively into these organisations so that they can portray world events in such a way that will enable their own corporate aspirations to be met. No matter how idealistic the rhetoric might sound coming from leading human rights organisations, the money could stop flowing if they discontinued manufacturing consent for wars.

This also raises the question of whether or not a non-governmental organisation that champions the issue of human rights can remain apolitical – as many such organizations claim to be. What would happen should such an organisation dare to adopt a truly righteous geopolitical (not political) stance advocating opposition to destructive western imperialist policies? Would western governments move to withdraw their 501c3 or tax exempt status which allows these charities to maintain their viability as a nonprofit organisation?

Once again, if conflicts of interest and revolving doors between government and charities are not properly addressed, it could eventually undermine the integrity of the entire NGO sector internationally. Corruption at the top of the pyramid also threatens to damage countless other small to medium sized organisations who do not have access to the US State Department or Hollywood, but who are still performing important services and engaged in real civic aid projects.

For human right organisations to be in lock-step with the US State Department, or hiring military operatives as board members and chief executives, is simply inexcusable by any social standard.

If the international community is to advance beyond defunct neocolonialist paradigms, it will need to place compassion ahead of policy, and humanity ahead of profits. Only then can the reality live up to the rhetoric.

 

[Author Patrick Henningsen is founder and editor of the news and analysis website 21st Century Wire, and is an independent foreign and political affairs analyst for RT International. He is also the host of the SUNDAY WIRE radio program which airs live every Sunday on the Alternate Current Radio Network. Find out more at: www.patrickhenningsen.com]

WATCH: Edward S. Herman on “Humanitarian Imperialism”

The Real News

Video published July 1, 2012

Excerpt:

TRN: Which it’s all geopolitics: when it’s in your interest, you bring up that card, and when it’s not, you don’t.

HERMAN: No, absolutely. And the lack of principle involved, the lack of as you say, there is a principle, a UN principle, that’s been overridden by this allegedly higher principle of the responsibility to protect civilians who are victimized by their government, so that we have to go in. And we did this in Libya. And a good chunk of the left fell for this, too, that we have the responsibility. We raised the question, I have raised the question, in the case of Libya, well, do you want to leave this in the hands of the United States, who’s engaging in drone warfare all over the world, has declared the whole world a free-fire zone, engaged in the most monstrous aggression in Iraq, and it’s got away with it. You want this imperial power to do the job in Libya on this incredibly selective basis? Isn’t that a bad principle in itself, to do it and to then let them do it, and to have faith that they’re going to do it, not engage in regime change, which they’ve been obviously pursuing? I mean, the naivete behind supporting that is again, it’s breathtaking.

 

 

[Edward S. Herman is an American economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media. He’s a Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s also the author of several books, namely “Manufacturing Consent” which he wrote with Noam Chomsky and “The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context and Politics”.]

AFRICOM’s War on Libya

Video published on Apr 8, 2015

“In this excerpt from Bob Coen and Eric Nadler’s film “Shadow War of the Sahara”, broadcast on the Franco-German channel ARTE charts the rise of the U.S.military’s AFRICA COMAND (AFRICOM). This excerpt reveals why AFRICOM’s chief critic, Libya’s Mohammar Gaddafi, had to be removed from power for the project to succeed.”


 

Watch Nelson Mandela’s answer to a question about his alliance with Gaddafi during the interview with Ted Coppel. June 21st, 1990:


Gaddafi in 1979:

 Libya’s Gaddafi in 1980:

 

The Nonprofit Industrial Complex: an Accessory to the Crime of Imperialism

Syrian Support Group: CIA Outreach Agents & Terrorist Arms Suppliers

The Wall Will Fall | PINKINDUSTRY

January 7, 2016

Excerpts from original article

ISIS ssg

“This is an open-ended exploration [carried out by PinkIndustry] of some of the outside figures offering assistance to the Syrian Support Group (SSG).

These figures have assisted in the granting of a license that enabled the Group to effectively send arms and money to the ‘Free Syrian Army’. The license was provided by the US State Dept’s oddly named ‘Office of Terrorism Finance and Economic Sanctions Policy’.

Part of the Office of Terrorism Finance’s stated remit is to coordinate: “efforts to create, modify, or terminate unilateral sanctions regimes as appropriate to the changing international situation, such as Iran, Syria, and Libya.” The license was granted in July 2012, based on a May application letter—a remarkably short time considering the nature of the SSG’s objectives and the complexities of the situation.

With the license the SSG can now bypass laws restricting trade with Syria and it is free to pay the wages of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and enable them to buy weapons. The arrangements also seems to include chemical weapons training. From its onset Louay Sakka, the SSG spokesman stated: “Right now we’re only asking them to provide more sophisticated weapons which nobody is willing to do” (Agence France Presse, June 8, 2012).

 

outside figures

 

The Outside Figures

A range of outside figures have been said to appear because they are connected “to the Anglo-American opposition creation business.” Examples are given such as those around western-elite connected figures such as Bassma Kodmani, formerly of the Syrian National Council (now with the Oxford Research Group).

Together with other groups the SSG ostensibly lobby the US government to provide support to the resistance against Assad.  But part of the State Dept’s deal with the SSG is that it reciprocally provides them with reports on who the money is going to. The idea is that this will help them to turn the FSA into a more organized group that could then receive intelligence and so forth from Western security agencies. Essentially this is the formation of a proxy force at arm’s length from the State Dept., so that it can retain the fiction that it is still opposed to providing direct lethal aid.

According to the New York Times, the SSG set up a base in Washington (it also has offices in London, Paris, and eastern Turkey) in April 2012 but had come together earlier in 2011; and even then the group was:

The Syrian Support Group, incorporated here in April as a non-profit, has few resources and, so far, few donations, and whether it succeeds in its larger goal remains to be seen. But it is already serving as a conduit between the United States and the armed forces seeking to topple Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and having an effect on American policy.

To further their cause and advise the Syrian Opposition Coalition in April 2013 (the dates are imprecise) the SSG hired Carne Ross and his New York-based firm, Independent Diplomat. This describes itself  as the “world’s first non-profit diplomatic advisory group.”  The idea was that the firm would:

…meet with key officials and desk officers in the State Department and other U.S. agencies to gather their views [on the Syrian civil war] and advise the Syrian Coalition how best to tailor their own approach to the U.S. Government.

In May 2012 (possibly months earlier) the SSG (or its advisers) also hired Brian Sayers, supposedly after finding him through an online employment agency. At this point the license was applied for and then approved.  Technically it was applied for by Mazen Asbahi, a lawyer who, when President Obama first ran for office, was appointed as his national coordinator to raise millions from Muslim Americans.

By granting such a license, according to a law expert, the US government has breached the UN Charter’s article 2(4), the prohibition on the threat and use of force in international relations: “the basic principle of customary international law prohibiting the interference into the domestic affairs of another state.” But no one seems interested, even although exactly who the FSA are remains a mystery: for the Russians “America’s Syrian friends and Afghan foes are same people.”

The SSG’s lucky find, Brian Sayers is said to have been an ex-NATO Advisor in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Libya—what he advises on we can only guess at.  Some say he was a ‘Political Officer for the International Secretariat at NATO’, others say he worked for the ‘Defense Operations Division at the US State Department,’ or he was the ‘Civilian Representative of the Secretary of Defense’.

He was also said to have run a company called ‘Private Digital Limited Corporation’.  Information on all this is scant, but the State Dept’s records have a Brian Neil Sayers, the husband of Mrs Adeline Hinderer Sayers, the second secretary for Trade at the US’ K Street Delegation of the European Union.  Sayers previously studied at the University of St. Andrews and then Georgetown University—who else found him useful one wonders?

What is peculiar here is that Sayers’ output has been given a remarkably sympathetic airing in the Israeli press.  Elsewhere we find him quoted as setting out the FSA as the lesser evil:

“We believe that if the United States does not act urgently, there is a real risk of a political vacuum in Syria, including the possibility of a dispersion of chemical weapons to rogue groups such as Hezbollah.”

This type of framing and commentary has a familiar ring about it: a private group being given tax-deductible status to raise money for an armed rebel group trying to overthrow a government in a country with which the US is not at war: the outsourcing to the private sector of the sort of thing the CIA used to do.

carnage

The Spook

Carne Ross’ International Diplomat (ID) reports to Najib Ghadbian, who co-ordinates the SSG. According to Ross’ firm, with SSG he will:

meet with key officials and desk officers in the State Department and other U.S. agencies to gather their views [on the Syrian civil war] … and advise the Syrian Coalition how best to tailor their own approach to the U.S. Government.

The acknowledged (thanks to Wikileaks) State Dept. funding of a Syrian opposition dates back to at least 2006. Ross started to advise the ‘National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces’ at the point were concerns were publicly raised that the rebellion was “being hijacked by Islamists linked to Al Qaeda” according to the New York Times.

But the rebellion has never really been in the ascendency, nor has its rebels been homogenous: in 2012, when the US blacklisted the Al-Qaeda-linked group Al-Nusra Front in Syria, the measure was initially criticized by the opposition. Of his firm’s role Ross was quoted as saying:

We’re not lobbyists, we’re an advisory group.

But he openly advocates intervention, arguing that similar fears of a perceived Islamist threat were used to justify non-intervention in Bosnia two decades ago.  This was parroted by Johnathan Freedland in the Guardian (seemingly before Ross was hired).  Ross’ other pronouncements in favour of escalating the conflict, include the inflamatory ‘Let’s call Russia’s bluff on Syria,’ also in the Guardian.  Independent Diplomat, as a private firm, clearly perceived an opportunity to shakedown the émigré groups that would emerge and be supported by the West.

After he resigned over Syria, Kofi Annan wrote in the Financial Times that peace was never given a chance by the UN: multipleplayers were responsible for the failure of diplomacy in Syria, and he said that Assad was not solely responsible for peace in the region.

For Al Jazeera the UN’s Security Council is engaged in a hegemonic power struggle over the Syrian conflict.  The legend which has been put around Carne Ross is that he is some saintly liberal interventionist helping the underdog, somehow at a remove from these machinations and the sanctions on, and then invasion of Iraq.  But he was not. Now that he has ‘resigned’ Ross has availed himself of the situation whereby governments outsource aspects of ‘diplomacy’.

This privatisation of diplomacy is a return to the pre-League of Nations’ secret diplomacy: it will not tackle the problem whereby wars are run by sinister vested interests.

Ross was head of the  according to the Jerusalem Post (September 5, 1995) and it is mentioned far and wide that he was the chief drafter of a key December 1999 UN Security Council resolution easing sanctions against Iraq in return for restarting weapons inspections (The Cairns Sun (Australia) January 5, 2001).

Less put-about stories include when John Pilger met Ross, and described him, more accurately, as the British official responsible for the imposition of sanctions.  To confront him Pilger read to him a statement Ross had made to a parliamentary select committee in 2007:

“The weight of evidence clearly indicates that sanctions caused massive human suffering among ordinary Iraqis, particularly children. We, the US and UK governments, were the primary engineers and offenders of sanctions and were well aware of this evidence at the time but we largely ignored it or blamed it on the Saddam government. [We] effectively denied the entire population a means to live.”

Ross’ reply was:

“I feel very ashamed about it… Before I went to New York, I went to the Foreign Office expecting a briefing on the vast piles of weapons that we still thought Iraq possessed, and the desk officer sort of looked at me slightly sheepishly and said, ‘Well actually, we don’t think there is anything in Iraq.’ “

Pilger’s story is really about another individual, Dr. Rafil Dhafir, who for 13 years with his ‘Help the Needy’ organisation had raised money for food and medicines for sick and starving Iraqis who were the victims of Ross’ sanctions. US officials told Dhafir his humanitarian aid was legal and then arrested him. Today, Dhafir is serving 22 years in prison for aiding terrorism.  Remember the State Dept. gave the SSG a licence to fund who knows who after looking at them for just over four or so weeks.

As chance would have it Ross has explained exactly how a false case for war is constructed using émigré and/or defector groups.  He has also outlined further how he and his colleagues pretended to delude themselves, when he was Blair’s Iraq expert at the UN security council, and was responsible for liaison with the weapons inspectors and intelligence on WMD. This was accomplished:

…not by the deliberate creation of a falsehood, but by willfully and secretly manipulating the evidence to exaggerate the importance of reports […] and to ignore contradictory evidence. This was a subtle process, elaborated from report to report, in such a way that allowed officials themselves to believe that they were not deliberately lying —more editing, perhaps, or simplifying for public presentation.

One of many witnesses at the Chilcot enquiry bent on self-exoneration, Ross was involved in all that he condemns, i.e. he was involved in the initial preparation of Blair’s dossier on WMD, and kept quiet about it until it was too late.  He even claims to have discussed the Number 10 WMD dossier at length with David Kelly in late 2002, who told him it was overstated.  There are reasons to doubt that his resignation was particularly motivated by his experience engineering the war—as he claims. Before, when on sabbatical leave in the US, he was happily extolling the virtues of his employers in the Guardian in March 21, 2002, claiming that:

I’ve never had a problem with motivation. I always thought that this job was worthwhile and work that needed to be done. One of the great things about the Foreign Office is that nearly everbody feels like that […] I didn’t feel unvalued a year ago.

Ross was also the UK’s Afghanistan “expert” at the UN Security Council after September 11th, 2001, and also briefly served in the British Embassy, Kabul, after the 2002 invasion.

Independent Diplomat’s name comes from one of his books: ‘Independent Diplomat, Dispatches From an Unaccountable Elite’. But we are not far away from this elite in his firm’s make-up.

It has a prestigious board of directors including Kieran Prendergast, who is also a member of the advisory board of another ‘British business intelligence’ firm, Hakluyt (Intelligence Online, January 8, 2009). Its advisory board, includes Sir David Manning, who was Tony Blair’s principal foreign affairs adviser in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.

The company has been found to have engaged in activities such as employing an operative to infiltrate environmental groups on behalf of BP and Shell; it was the firm that hired the subsequently murdered British businessman Neil Heywood as a consultant in China—he was said to be

part of a global network of consultants who use local connections to provide intelligence for Hakluyt clients.

Haykluyt’s parent company is the Holdingham Group who’s Advisory board are beyond a shadow of a doubt an unaccountable elite. Its other organisations are H+ described as:

“An insight-driven consultancy providing independent and objective advice to senior executives at leading international corporations who face major strategic challenges and decisions”

and Pelorus Research which says:

Government intrusion into the commercial space is on the rise, and this is an increasingly important investment consideration. This weighs heaviest on industries most exposed to regulatory action, including telecoms, financial services, tobacco and natural resources”. 

Yes governments are way down the pecking order here—just another palm to cross with silver in the process of money making.

lob

The Lobbyist

In April 2013, along with Carne Ross, the SSG also hired professional lobbyist Andrew Gifford as co-director with Sayer, together with UK Ambassador Donald MacLaren as a political Consultant and Ian Griffiths (in charge of operations). 

According to a 1991 study of the firm: in the 1980s GJW’s three founding partners worked in the offices of David Steel, James Callaghan and Edward Heath (an original partner was to be Peter Mandelson). Its Finance director, Nigel Clarke, is the nephew of former defence secretary Tom King. Gifford is known for manipulating the press, e.g. for the arms industry (such as GEC’s bid to retain an MoD contract for heavyweight torpedoes).

Gifford’s firm, GJW Government Relations, also hired the young Nick Clegg and was known for its work aiding Colonel Gaddafi with Lockerbie. Other clients included Enron, Lady Shirley Porter and the Kuwaiti ruling family.

[Edit:  term “aiding” is perhaps, misleading.  Here is actual quote from the Independent article:]

The Libyan account, which even Ian Greer, a lobbyist whose name has become synonymous with political sleaze said he rejected, required GJW International to present Colonel Gadaffi’s position on the Lockerbie bombing. The Tripoli regime maintains that it is being made a scapegoat by the West for the destruction of the Pan-Am airliner in December 1988. It also wanted the trial of two Libyan nationals, alleged to be the bombers, to be held at a neutral venue rather than in Britain and or the United States as London and Washington demand.”

But according to PR Week(April 29, 1993) the biggest account GJW handled was with ‘Citizens for a Free Kuwait’ (similar to the SSG).

But let me back track a little bit here. Gifford is an associate of ex-SAS officer, Tony Buckingham who was “linked to a series of mercenary military operations launched on behalf of governments in power or exile and multinationals, in return for cash.” The New Statesman noted that:

Executive Outcomes was registered in the UK in September 1993 by Simon Mann, a former troop commander in 22 SAS specializing in intelligence and South African director of Ibis Air, and Tony Buckingham, an SAS veteran and chief executive of Heritage Oil and Gas.

The Heritage Oil and Gas board of directors includes former Liberal Party leader David Steel, and Andrew Gifford of GJW Government Relations, an influential parliamentary lobbyist. The company, originally British, now registered in the Bahamas, is associated with a Canadian oil corporation, Ranger Oil.

Both Heritage Oil and GJW are subsidiaries of Sandline International, another international security company.  Their own testimony states that together they brokered the arms into Sierra leone that met with the approval of the British Government and MI6In the mid 1990s EO blended into Sandline International.

The military companies operated from Buckingham’s offices in King’s Road, Chelsea, with the premises operated by Heritage Oil and Gas, and Branch Energy.  GJW, City PR firm Financial Dynamics and pollster Gallup joined forces to bankroll a new public affairs agency called Matrix Public Affairs Consultants.  Gifford and Tony Buckingham also share ownership with Guardian Newspapers of a publishing company called Fourth Estate.

If I turn back to GJW’S big account, Citizens for a Free Kuwait (CFK) this was a front group, established with the assistance of another large public-relations company, Hill & Knowlton. Other groups: e.g. the Council of American Muslims for Understanding were funded by the US State Dept. The Iraqi National Congress, was also a front organisation funded by the US government—all echoed the call for intervention and war.

After his 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein was accused of removing Kuwaiti premature babies from incubators and leaving them on the floor to die. The charges were made during testimony given before a meeting with a front group the ‘Congressional Human Rights Caucus’ designed to resemble the US Congress in October 1990. As John McArthur put it:

The Human Rights Caucus is not a committee of congress, and therefore it is unencumbered by the legal accoutrements that would make a witness hesitate before he or she lied [ …] Lying under oath in front of a congressional committee is a crime; lying from under the cover of anonymity to a caucus is merely public relations.

Nevertheless the story was widely circulated in the media and cited by political leaders (including George Bush and Amnesty International) as a justification to launch the invasion three months later.

After the Gulf War was over, the false testimony was revealed to have been by the teenage daughter of Saud bin Nasir Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington as part of an elaborate propaganda campaign devised by Hill & Knowlton and financed by the Kuwaiti government via CFK.  GJW was hired by the Association for a Free Kuwait to lobby Westminster and Brussels.

The Kuwaitis paid GJW more than £400,000 in fees and expenses while the Association’s US equivalent paid $5.6 million to Hill and Knowlton for the work in Washington (PR Week, January 17, 1991).

73-MACLAREN-1

The Ambassador

The SSG also hired Ambassador, Donald MacLaren, who can be seen at rallies in Whitehall that call for intervention in front of 10 Downing St. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1978 and served until 2008, after posts in Berlin and Moscow he became Ambassador to Georgia from 2004 to 2007, but he was seconded to Oxford Analytica from 1998-99.  Their assessment of the situation in Syria as of May 16 (2013) was:

“Syrian regime forces have managed to turn the tide in central and southern Syria by adopting a new counter-insurgency strategy. Despite slow but steady rebel advances in the north and east, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is now in a position to exploit international developments, such as the US-Russian diplomatic initiative, Saudi-Qatari divisions over the opposition, and Jordanian reluctance at hastening regime change in Syria.”

Oxford Analytica is a private intelligence company advised by Sir Colin McColl the ex-Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service amongst others that includes John Negroponte who was involved in supervising the Nicaraguan Contras, and according to Michel Chossudovsky:

“Negroponte’s mandate as US ambassador to Iraq [together with, now US Syrian Ambassador, Robert S. Ford] was to coordinate out of the US embassy, the covert support to death squads and paramilitary groups in Iraq with a view to fomenting sectarian violence and weakening the resistance movement. Robert S. Ford as “Number Two” [Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs] at the US Embassy played a central role in this endeavour.”

OA also have Peter Woicke, former CEO of the International Finance Corporation and Managing Director of the World Bank Group and other high flyers (and David Milliband). It was started by David Young after he fled from the Nixon administration after working with the White House Special Investigations Unit, the ‘Plumbers,’ and was miraculously granted immunity from prosecution.  OA believe that the Syrian conflict is a proxy war involving the regional actors and the US and Russia.

+++

 

Also SSG connection to Israel lobby and CIA mentioned in this Acronym TV report on the NPIC [Not for Profit Industrial Complex]

 

Soros Plays Both Ends in Syria Refugee Chaos

New Eastern Outlook

December 18, 2015

F. William Engdahl

obama-soros

Since John D. Rockefeller was advised to protect his wealth from government taxation by creating a tax-exempt philanthropic foundation in 1913, foundations have been used by American oligarchs to disguise a world of dirty deeds under the cover “doing good for mankind,” known by the moniker “philanthropy” for mankind-loving. No less the case is that of George Soros who likely has more tax-exempt foundations under his belt than anyone around. His Open Society foundations are in every country where Washington wants to put ‘their man’ in, or at least get someone out who doesn’t know how to read their music. They played a key role in regime change in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe after 1989. Now his foundations are up to their eyeballs in promoting propaganda serving the US-UK war agenda for destroying stability in Syria as they did in Libya three years ago, creating the current EU refugee crisis.

We should take a closer look at the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis wreaking such havoc and unrest across the EU, especially in Germany, the favored goal of most asylum seekers today. George Soros, today a naturalized American citizen, has just authored a six-point proposal telling the European Union on what they must do to manage the situation. It’s worth looking at in detail.

He begins by stating, “The EU needs a comprehensive plan to respond to the crisis, one that reasserts effective governance over the flows of asylum-seekers so that they take place in a safe, orderly way…” He then says that, “First, the EU has to accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future.”

Soros does not elaborate where he pulled that figure from, nor does he discuss the role of other of his Soros-financed NGOs in Syria and elsewhere which manufacture faked propaganda to build a public sympathy lobby for a US and UK “No Fly Zone” in Syria as was done to destroy Libya.

The American hedge fund speculator then adds, among his points to be implemented, a series of proposals that would consolidate a de facto supranational EU state apparatus under control of the faceless, unelected bureaucrats of the European Commission. The Soros proposals call for creating what amount to EU-issued refugee bonds. He states, “The EU should provide €15,000 ($16,800) per asylum-seeker for each of the first two years to help cover housing, health care, and education costs – and to make accepting refugees more appealing to member states. It can raise these funds by issuing long-term bonds using its largely untapped AAA borrowing capacity…”

That issuing comes to 30 billion euros at a time when most EU member states are struggling to deal with domestic economic crises. Soros is generous with other peoples’ money. The mention of the AAA bond rating is the rating of the legal entity named the European Union. Soros has maneuvered for years to try to get a centralized Brussels independent financial power that would take the last vestiges of national financial sovereignty away from Berlin, Paris, Rome and other EU states, part of a scheme to destroy the remains of the national borders and of the nation-state principles established at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 ending the Thirty Years’ War.

George Soros has more ideas how to spend European citizens’ tax euros. He calls on the EU to cough up an added annual commitment to “frontline countries” (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan) of at least €8-10 billion annually. Then, insidiously, Soros declares, “Safe channels must be established for asylum-seekers, starting with getting them from Greece and Italy to their destination countries. This is very urgent in order to calm the panic.”

‘Destination Countries’

His use of the term “destination countries” is very interesting. Today, by a huge margin that means the Federal Republic of Germany. Soros strategy is obviously to target Germany, especially, with a refugee flood.

It has gradually come out into the open that many of the refugees or asylum-seekers flooding into the EU since summer of 2015 have come in response to reading Twitter or Facebook social media portraying especially Germany as an arms-open, refugee-loving paradise where all their needs will be met.

How did word get out that Germany was the “in place” for those in flight from Syria and other conflict areas? Vladimir Shalak at the Russian Academy of Sciences developed the Internet Content-Analysis System for Twitter (Scai4Twi). He made a study of over 19,000 refugees-related original tweets (retweets discounted). His study showed that the vast majority of the tweets name Germany as the most refugee-welcoming country in Europe.

Shalak’s study discovered that 93% of all tweets about Germany contained positive references to German hospitality and its refugee policy. Some samples of the Tweets:

• Germany Yes! Leftists spray a graffiti on a train sayin “Welcome, refugees” in Arabic

• Lovely people – video of Germans welcoming Syrian refugees to their community

• Respect! Football fans saying “Welcome Refugees” across stadiums in Germany. _ • This Arabic Graffiti train is running in Dresden welcoming refugees: (ahlan wa sahlan – a warm welcome).

• ‘We love Germany!,’ cry relieved refugees at Munich railway station

• Thousands welcome refugees to Germany – Sky News Australia

• Wherever this German town is that welcomed a coach of Syrian refugees with welcome signs and flowers –thank you.

Now comes the real hammer. The vast majority of these “Germany welcomes refugee” Tweets come not from Germany, but from the United States and from the UK, the two countries up to their necks in the bloody deeds of ISIS and Al Qaeda and countless other terror gangs rampaging across Syria the past four years.

Shalak analyzed 5,704 original tweets containing a “#RefugeesWelcome” hashtag and a country name which welcomes them. It showed almost 80% of all Tweets claimed that Germany was the most-welcoming country in Europe. The second most welcoming country found was Austria with 12%. However, the study also found that those “Germany welcomes you” Tweets did not originate from inside Germany. Over 40% of all the Tweets originated from the USA, UK or Australia. Only 6.4% originated inside Germany.

George Soros is also the Daddy Warbucks financing a new EU think-tank with the name European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). On the website of the ECFR is an editorial titled, “If Europe wants people to stop drowning it needs to let them fly.” The Soros Think-Tank argues that the main reason migrants choose boats is EU Directive 51/2001/EC: “The EU directive was passed in 2001. Put simply, it states that carrier companies—whether airlines or ship lines—are responsible for ensuring that foreign nationals wishing to travel to the European Union have valid travel documents for their destination. If such travelers arrive in the EU and are turned away, the airlines are obligated to foot the bill for flying them home.” In other words, “open the gates of heaven wider, dear Lord.”

Soros’ Syria NGOs Beat War Drums

The cynicism of the Soros call for the EU taxpayers to step up to the plate and accept millions of new refugees, to fly them in without papers, and more, is clear when we look at the same Soros-financed network of NGOs active in Syria trying to create the propaganda background to get acceptance of yet another US “No Fly Zone” over Syria as was done against Iraq after 1991 and against Libya in 2012 to bomb those countries back to the stone age.

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Illustration by Mark Gould

One of the key online advocates for a US-UK “No Fly Zone” over Syria, something the Russian intervention since September 30 has de facto blocked, is an organization known as Avaaz. Avaaz was given initial financial support by Soros’ foundation in 2007 to promote key policies suitable to the US State Department. They cite Soros’ Open Society foundation as their foundation partner. Avaaz played a key role promoting the 2011 No Fly Zone in Libya that introduced a regime of terror and chaos in that once prosperous and stable African nation. Avaaz is now very actively promoting the same treatment for Syria.

Ken Roth & George Soros

Executive Director of Human Rights Watch Ken Roth (L) with George Soros

Another Soros-financed NGO active demonizing the Assad government as cause of all atrocities in Syria and helping build public support for a war in Syria from the US and EU is Amnesty International. Suzanne Nossel, until 2013 the Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, came to the job from the US State Department where she was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, not exactly an unbiased agency in regard to Syria. As well, the Soros-financed Human Rights Watch has played a major role in falsely portraying ISIS and Al Qaeda civilian bombings and other atrocities as the work of the Assad regime, building support for military action from the US and EU.

The Middle East and other wars today including Ukraine are the product of the foreign policy doctrine set out in 1992 by then Defense Assistant Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the infamous Wolfowitz Doctrine that justifies “pre-emptive” war, free from any oversight from the UN Security Council, against any nation or group of nations which threaten US “Sole Superpower” domination. George Soros, the hedge fund speculator turned self-proclaimed philanthropist, and his tax-exempt foundations, are an integral part of that pre-emptive war machine. Now Soros lectures the EU countries, above all Germany, on how they should receive the human fallout from the wars he and his cronies in the US State Department have created. That’s real Chutzpah, or perhaps it is really hubris.

 

 

[F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.]

 

Africa’s Problem from Hell: Samantha Power

SF BayView

August 10, 2015

By Ann Garrison

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Rwandan President Paul Kagame (R) meeting with Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN- Washington DC, 4 August 2014

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power is on a mission to save Africans from African savagery. She wants you to call 1-800-GENOCIDE so she can send in the Marines or other U.S. Special Forces.

Her entire career is based on a historically inaccurate, decontextualized and grossly oversimplified account of the 1994 Rwandan massacres, during which the U.S. “stood by.” From now on, she moralizes, U.S. citizens must be “upstanders,” not bystanders. “Never again” can we fail in our moral duty to stop the world’s dark-skinned, backward peoples from massacring one another over ethnic difference.

She wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book calling this “The Problem From Hell: America in the Age of Genocide,” which expands on her Atlantic article, “Bystanders to Genocide.”

Power fails to note that the U.S. stood by intentionally, not indifferently, in Rwanda, until U.S. ally Gen. Paul Kagame won a war of aggression begun four years earlier. The Rwandan death toll was many hundreds of thousands higher than the Pentagon had projected, but otherwise, everything went according to plan. Two years later, the Congo Wars began, and the U.S. and U.K. unseated France as the dominant power in the African Great Lakes Region.

Now, having successfully advocated for U.S.-led NATO wars in Libya and Syria “to stop the next Rwanda,” Power has her sights set on the tiny, impoverished East African nation of Burundi. Burundi shares the Hutu-Tutsi-Twa ethnic divisions with neighboring Rwanda and a highly geostrategic border with the resource rich Democratic Republic of the Congo.

U.S. troops typically appear only as “advisors” south of the Sahara, although “Mass Atrocity Response Operations; A Military Planning Handbook” describes the swift, surgical deployment of U.S. Special Forces as a blueprint at the ready. For now there are plenty of African troops serving under U.S. military command and grateful to receive the salaries that boost their class status in Africa, though they’d be considered poverty wages here.

This is the plane crash that triggered the Rwandan genocide. On April 6, 1994, at 8:25 p.m., the Falcon 50 jet of the president of the Republic of Rwanda, on its return from a summit meeting in Tanzania, was shot down as it approached a landing in Kigali, Rwanda. All on board, including President Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda, President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, their entire entourage and flight crew, died. Current Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, has confessed to responsibility for the assassinations, according to his former ambassador to the U.S., Theogene Rudasingwa.

All but a few African nations now have soldiers serving within AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command, and Burundi’s belligerent neighbor Rwanda is one of the greatest troop contributors. One complication of the Burundian situation is that Burundian troops serve in AMISON, the Pentagon-led African Union Mission to Somalia.

Fighting and casualties have already taken place on Burundi’s tense border with Rwanda, and this week five of Burundi’s ruling party leaders, including the Burundian security and intelligence chief, were assassinated. This makes it clear that President Nkurunziza, who is hugely popular with the country’s rural Hutu peasant majority, could be the next target.

And, it alarms all those who remember that the assassination of three Hutu presidents within two years, 1993-1994, precipitated the Rwandan and Burundian bloodbaths of the 1990s.

Samantha Power has decried assassinations on both sides and threatened sanctions, but she lays all the blame for Burundian crisis on President Nkurunziza. Why? Because he claimed the constitutional right to be elected twice by universal suffrage, then won by 69 percent.

However, she spoke not a word of protest in 2010, when Rwandan President Paul Kagame claimed the same right and won by a thoroughly implausible 93 percent majority. Or in 2011, when President Kabila claimed the same right, then claimed a victory that “delegitimized all Congolese institutions,” according to the Carter Center’s election observer mission.

The regional and ethnic tensions now fiercely focused on Burundi are no doubt real, the danger of mass violence great, but the African Great Lakes Region is so resource rich that the resource interests of the world’s industrial and military power elites are always in play behind the news and Samantha Power’s latest African anxieties.

 

 

[Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting]